Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 780, the Meeting in the Initial Scene Setting

23 August 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 780, the Meeting in the Initial Scene Setting

Announcement:  Ancient Light is delayed due to the economy.  You can read more about it at http://www.ancientlight.com.  Ancient Light includes the second edition of Aegypt plus Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness.  I’ll keep you updated.

Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.

I’m using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I’ll keep you informed along the way.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:

1. Don’t confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.

All novels have five discrete parts:
1.  The initial scene (the beginning)
2.  The rising action
3.  The climax
4.  The falling action
5.  The dénouement

The theme statement of my 26th novel, working title, Shape, proposed title, Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.

I just started writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Trainee. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is something like this: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, the dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.

Here is the cover proposal for Essie: Enchantment and the Aos SiEssie is my 26th novel.

Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action.  I’m editing many of my novels using comments from my primary reader. I finished my 27th novel, working title Claire. I’m working on marketing materials.

I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.

Scene development:

  1. Scene input (easy)
  2. Scene output (a little harder)
  3. Scene setting (basic stuff)
  4. Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
  5. Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
  6. Release (climax of creative elements)

How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.

Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.

We begin the initial scene with scene setting. Here’s the beginning:

Dorothy Smith stepped off the train onto the platform of the Lancaster Station, Lancaster, California. Already the air was hot and getting hotter by the moment. The smell of diesel, dust, and scalded rock burnt her nostrils. The wind tugged at her, and she barely caught her light blue dress before it lifted above her thighs. She made a face that quickly settled into an uneasy smile. Her dress looked wrinkled, and she couldn’t do anything to fix that here. She could only afford a third class ticket without a sleeper, and she felt grubby as well as uncomfortable. Dorothy held down her skirt and touched her hair. It felt stiff and unkept. She’d tried to tease it out in the train’s restroom, but the curl had fallen out, and she was sure it looked dreadful. She’d covered it with her light blue scarf. Her makeup looked in better shape. She hated wearing it, but she had become accustomed to it. She licked her too red lips and berated herself. She’d have to repair that as soon as she could. With an uncharacteristic sigh, she scurried out of the full sunshine and under the long awning in front of the station. Behind her, one of the conductors lugged her large cardboard valise. He carried it with both hands. It was so easy to get these men to do things like this for her. She was told that was the case, but she had to see it to believe it. With a small smile, a look of helplessness, and a tiny gesture, they would come to her help and attend to almost any need. If she’d want to, she wouldn’t have had to pay for a single meal during her travels, and she could have shared a sleeper. She didn’t allow herself that pleasure. She didn’t need the attention or the entanglements. She just noted the availability.

I may change this beginning, but it’s not too bad. The time is not directly stated. I put that in the beginning like this:

Spring 1960, Lancaster Train Station, Lancaster, California, USA

I will also relate the time directly in the initial scene. You can see the protagonist is partially described. There is more in the next paragraph. The point is that the initial scene requires a strong setting—that includes character description. Notice, I don’t give you any information about who Dorothy Smith really is. This is for revelation in the novel. I do give some little slips of information that might make the reader pause and wonder. This is my style, and a style I intend to use through the entire novel. The tension and release cycle starts with this paragraph and is made clear in the next paragraph. Dorothy is worried about her appearance. The reader can guess why. The next paragraph makes this very clear:

She looked to the right and the left. No one matched the description of her greeter so she stopped beside a wooden bench. The conductor placed her bag at the side of the bench.

Dorothy is waiting for someone. The someone is the protagonist’s helper. This is the meeting of the two.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:


fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic


About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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